In Absurd Film Giraffes Walk Over To Swimming Pool And Begin Diving
Mar 26, 2021 by apost team
Giraffes are one of the few mammals in the world that can’t swim. With their dense bones and their massive necks, it just doesn’t seem to work out on an anatomical level. But one French animator didn’t let that stop him from making a few giraffes jump into a public pool.
In 2013, Nicolas Deveaux stunned viewers from around the world with his absurd short film “5 mètres 80,” wherein a flock of giraffes takes turns performing acrobatic dives into an indoor pool. But don’t worry — no giraffes were harmed in the making of this film. While the giraffes look real, they were actually meticulously animated by Deveaux over a period of more than a year in collaboration with Cube Creative, a Parisian production company. Since then, fans have re-uploaded the clip to YouTube, where it has accumulated more than 8 million views and a lot of comments that seem to be in disbelief of how real the animals look.
The film opens in the tiled hallways of what appears to be part of an indoor pool complex. A giraffe appears. And then another makes its way into the hall. And soon enough, there’s a whole line of giraffes walking down the hallway in a neat single-file line. The hallway connects to a massive spiral staircase, which the giraffes methodically climb as if they know exactly where they’re going. And it turns out that they do.
At the end of this massive spiral walkway is a diving board that the giraffes run to and jump off of without hesitation, showing off their acrobatic dive skills that would put most Olympians to shame.
Be sure to reach the end of this article to see the full video :-)
Many of the video’s top YouTube comments speak to how realistic the animation looks.
“My grandma just sent this to me and she thinks it's real,” Nicholas B commented.
“This is so cool! I love it,” another user added. “I didn't watch it right away, just saved it, because it was real. So fun. Amazing how far animation has come.”
In a 2019 interview with Reca Animation in French, Deveaux explained his process of creating such a realistic animation.
“For me, the computer-generated image is similar to sculpture,” Deveaux told the publication. “To begin with, I do a ‘cast’ of animals, from photos. If we take the example of the giraffe, when we look at several photos, we realize that none of them are alike. They all have particularities.”
Deveaux explained that he based the giraffe model on a series of white horses, making seven different giraffe varieties in the end. This is essential to Deveaux’s art. If the giraffes all look alike, then it’s obvious to the audience that the animals are computer-generated.
The French animator also had to create a digital “skeleton” of the giraffe, which requires a good understanding of animal movements and their anatomy.
“I often take pictures of animals. I film them too,” Deveaux said. “But since (animals) in zoos are often depressed and don't look like they would in their natural element, I also watch documentaries shot in the wild.”
With that said, Deveaux also noted that he doesn’t make the animal models too realistic. Instead, it’s also important to understand and incorporate what the collective unconscious’ idea of a giraffe is — the sort of typical, model giraffe that we all have in our heads.
“If I take out a ‘real’ giraffe in close-up, viewers will find it too bony,” Deveaux said. “‘My’ giraffe will ultimately be a kind of fantasized giraffe.”
After having first studied engineering, Deveaux discovered his passion for animation a bit later in life, according to his interview with Reca Animation. When he was young, he chose engineering to please his father, but it didn’t take long for Deveaux to find out that he didn’t enjoy what he was doing, apart from some of the drawing he had to do for his classes. That gave Deveaux the idea to apply to art school.
Surprisingly, Deveaux didn’t specialize in animation; rather, he mostly trained in drawing. However, he was able to land a job at Cube Animation shortly after graduating thanks to a bit of networking.
“The sector was at a low point in terms of production. But during the graduation ceremony (which took place 1 year after graduation), I was able to reconnect with companies that I had met during my studies. And especially with Cube.”
It was at the graduation ceremony that Deveaux met Lionel Fages, who works at the Parisian production company. Funnily enough, Deveaux says that Fages didn’t like his graduation film, and yet he still offered Deveaux a job at the company.
Since then, Deveaux has made waves in the animation industry. In 2017, Deveaux worked with Arte, a public Franco-German broadcasting company, to release “Athleticus.” The 30-episode series of short films is in the same style as his giraffe video, featuring hippos that play table tennis to flamingos that shoot hoops on the basketball court.
Arte renewed the series for a second season in 2018, which led to another 30-episode release.
“The animal world is so rich that, for the moment, I don't have the impression of going in circles,” Deveaux said.
“To me animals are like Trojans. Thanks to them, I was able to explore a lot of different worlds: short and feature films, dress, series, advertising… And each time I experimented with things.”
Deveaux has also earned a series of accolades for his work. In fact, the giraffe video won more than a dozen awards, such as the Best Short Film award at Spain’s in Festival International Artfutura and the Best of Show award at Siggraph in Hong Kong in 2013.
As for what’s next for the French animator? Deveaux told Reca Animation in 2019 that he’s not sure, though he is somewhat reluctantly considering a feature-length version of “Athleticus” at Fages suggestion.
“(Feature films are) said to be the holy grail of directors. This is not how I see it … For me, the aesthetics of the short film have their own value,” Deveaux explained.
“The feature film is intimidating in several ways. It is five or six years of one’s life that one devotes to it. What can also worry me is that I have seen studios go down because of feature films that do not work.”
Even if Deveaux doesn’t manage (or want) to put out a feature in the coming years, he told Reca Animation that he’s hopeful that Arte will renew “Athleticus” for a third season.
For fans who want to follow Deveaux’s work — or if you just can’t get enough of diving giraffes — you can check out the animator’s website, where he regularly updates his portfolio.
What do you think of Deveaux’s short film? Did you think that the animals were real at first? Let us know, and be sure to pass this animated short film on to friends, family members and friends.